WWE No Mercy 2004 Review feat. John Bradshaw Layfield vs. The Undertaker

Logo for WWE No Mercy 2004
Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWE
EventWWE No Mercy 2004
SeriesNo Mercy
Edition7
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday October 3 2004
VenueContinental Airlines Arena
LocationEast Rutherford, New Jersey, USA
Attendance10,000

WWE No Mercy 2004

WWE No Mercy 2004 would buck the ongoing trend of poor SmackDown-only PPV events at the time. Indeed, with a potentially-promising card that managed to deliver plenty of action, this would be a breath of fresh air. Nevertheless, the card could still have been better in areas, as I will explain.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

Eddie Guerrero vs. Luther Reigns

Eddie Guerrero and Luther Reigns would have the “honour” of opening this card. It seemed like a drop-off for Eddie after his WWE Title reign in the first half of 2004. But we would later learn that Guerrero was happy to take a reduced role due to the pressure of being WWE Champion. And for new fans just discovering Eddie, this bout would be a good demonstration of his popularity.

The action is satisfactory, but we get Eddie in full “lie, cheat and steal” mode here. And the fan response sums up the close connection that Latino Heat was able to strike with the WWE audience. Bringing a steel chair into the ring to distract the referee, Eddie then struck Luther with a baton, followed by a Frog Splash for the pinfall victory. It may not have been the main event, but Eddie picked up his first PPV win since WrestleMania XX.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2003 REVIEW!

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match

Spike Dudley (C) vs. Nunzio

If this were ECW in, say, 1999, Spike vs. Nunzio (well, Little Guido back then) may have had some appeal. In WWE in 2004, though, few would have considered this a reason to order No Mercy on PPV. But these two delivered a surprisingly enjoyable clash that exceeded expectations. Let two capable wrestlers have an actual wrestling match, and usually they will succeed.

That the Dudley Boyz and Nunzio’s FBI pal Johnny Stamboli were at ringside provided further memories of ECW (okay, more so for Bubba Ray and D-Von). Their presence would decide the outcome of an otherwise clean and competitive contest. With Stamboli and D-Von occupying the referee’s attention, Bubba halted a Nunzio top rope attack, allowing Spike to get the pin. Spike could continue his reign as Cruiserweight Champion, as well as his role of “The Boss” for his half-brothers. If you don’t remember that aspect, don’t worry. It was lame, though this match definitely wasn’t.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE UNFORGIVEN 2004 REVIEW!

Billy Kidman vs. Paul London

Two cruiserweight division matches on one WWE PPV in 2004? Had Vince McMahon gone mad? Seriously, this clash between former tag team partners had been nicely set up. Because Kidman legitimately injured Chavo Guerrero with a Shooting Star Press, he no longer wished to hit his preferred finisher. This confused London, and it would cost both men their WWE Tag Team Titles. I liked the storyline back then, and it’s one that could be recycled nowadays (preferably without someone’s actual injury triggering it). Unlike Spike vs. Nunzio, this would be a clash that any smark would want to see. And it ended up being a very good clash, one of the better under-card bouts on any WWE PPV in 2004. Had this been on WCW Monday Nitro in 1998, it would have been right at home.

After London tried and failed with a Shooting Star Press, Kidman relented and hit Paul with an SSP for the pin. The story was that London had suffered damaged ribs from the move, meaning Kidman had caused another injury. But he would take advantage afterwards by callously hitting a second SSP (Tazz: “That son of a bitch!”), establishing him as a heel. London was now bleeding from the mouth and on a stretcher board, making this a surprisingly strong angle for the lighter division. But sadly, the story would fizzle out within weeks, as neither London nor Chavo (upon his subsequent return) ever put Kidman in his place.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWF NO MERCY (UK) 1999 REVIEW!

WWE Tag Team Championship Match

Kenzo Suzuki & Rene Dupree (C) vs. Rey Mysterio & Rob Van Dam

On paper, this is a total mismatch. Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam are two future WWE Hall Of Famers, and amongst the most popular wrestlers of the 2000s. Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree are not. Unfortunately, in 2004, SmackDown would have this habit of using talented, likeable performers to put over limited, unspectacular competitors. That would be the case in this Tag Team Title match, with Suzuki and Dupree retaining their titles. And it would come after the cheapest and most predictable heel finish imaginable. Kenzo rolled up Rey, with his feet blatantly on the ropes for leverage, and the official counted the three.

The only thing worse than the outcome was Kenzo’s appalling and unfunny attempt at mocking Americans by trying to sing post-match. I would rather watch Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards from Unforgiven 2004 than Kenzo trying to sing, which speaks volumes. Thankfully, Rey and RVD would eventually dethrone Kenzo and Rene as champs just before the end of the year.

Kurt Angle vs. Big Show

Big Show feels like one of Kurt Angle’s main contemporaries and, erm, biggest rivals, even though their total number of singles PPV matches is only three. A Backlash 2000 showdown is most memorable for Show’s impersonation of Hulk Hogan. Their Armageddon 2002 WWE Title bout is remembered mainly for Brock Lesnar helping Angle to win. And their only other one-on-one battle on PPV would be here at No Mercy 2004.

Show had recently returned (WWE dubbed crowd noise for his babyface comeback, which was sad), and Angle was his target. This would be due to Angle previously firing Show while he was SmackDown General Manager. Prior to this PPV, Angle formed an alliance with Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak, and they all shaved Show’s head. Only here did we discover that Show had not only lost his hair, but he was completely bald.

Teddy Long had banned Reigns and Jindrak from ringside (no tag team match here playa), meaning Angle had to face the giant alone. But he would decide to avoid that as best he could, attempting to be counted out within minutes of the bell. Cue Teddy Long’s music with Kurt stood in the crowd. Long’s response: Angle would be fired if he didn’t return within 10 seconds (the guy standing next to him seems delighted during this segment if you watch it back). From there, these two had a fun back-and-forth match that made the most of both the size and style differences. Show hit Angle with a Chokeslam from the top rope to triumph in one of his better career performances.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2017 REVIEW!

WWE United States Championship Best-Of-5 Series Match 5

Booker T (C) vs. John Cena

This must be the show featuring concepts that are cool every few years. The multi-match best-of series had been and would be used again by Booker and Chris Benoit. But other than Sheamus vs. Cesaro, I do not recall WWE using the concept in the modern era besides here. (Okay, you may bring up The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian, but the rubber match outshines their original series massively). Anyway, as is tradition, each man would enter the ring at 2-2, thus able to claim the series and the US Title by winning.

The match itself is okay, but it hardly ended this lengthy feud with a bang; more like a whimper, really. Still, at this point John Cena was super-over on his rise to the top, so his fans were delighted when an FU sealed the victory, allowing him to regain the United States Title that he had been robbed off during the summer. Booker would turn babyface within weeks, severing all storyline ties with Cena. As for John, his next plotline would be surprisingly dark and, worse still, totally forgettable.

Charlie Haas, Rico & Miss Jackie vs. The Dudley Boyz & Dawn Marie

Trivia note: this would be the final WWE PPV match for Bubba Ray and D-Von until 2015. Okay, so we have ECW One Night Stand 2005, but is that ECW or WWE? (I know, it’s WWE, but let me have my pointless fact and just move on.) This is easily the least important reason to rewatch No Mercy 2004, as it only demonstrates the lack of depth in SmackDown’s mid-card. Sure, some people may have found Rico, Haas and Jackie’s weird alliance to be entertaining, but I’ll simply say I prefer pressing “skip”. And not Chris Candido. Rico actually pinned D-Von with a moonsault to win in what I realise was also his final WWE PPV appearance, as he was released a month or so later. Jackie and Marie would splinter off into their own rivalry involving Haas, which would lead to a bloody awful match at Armageddon.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE TABOO TUESDAY 2004 REVIEW!

WWE Championship Last Ride Match

John Bradshaw Layfield (C) vs. The Undertaker

At the time, I was really, really hoping that Undertaker would win the WWE Title here. JBL as WWE Champion is something I still consider to be an awful period in the company’s history. Why? Because the WWE Title had always been a prize for only elite performers to claim, even when taking transitional champions into account. When the former APA member was able to win the belt and hold onto it for ages, to me, WWE’s top prize decreased greatly in value. But we fans would have hope here. Undertaker was the beneficiary of a DQ win at SummerSlam, and this – the first ever Last Ride match – could be the moment where the JBL experiment may end! Did Undertaker pull it off? Sadly, no.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2005 REVIEW!

To be fair, the match itself is entertaining to watch back. Maybe it’s due to the brawling or the anything-goes nature of the rules. But Undertaker was able to give JBL one of his stronger WWE Title defences here. Interestingly enough, JBL (who would bleed profusely, a staple of his reign) says this match was where he would suffer a back injury. That issue would slowly but surely bring about the end of his career, temporarily in 2006 and permanently in 2009. Back to October 3 2004, and it did seem like Taker would win after hitting a Tombstone Piledriver. But when he opened the limousine door to try and win this match (the rules were akin to an Ambulance match, except with a hearse), Heidenreich – yes, bloody Heidenreich – popped out and attacked the Dead Man.

Heidenreich had been threatening to target Taker for weeks by virtue of Taker’s previous issues with Paul Heyman. But it was still annoying to see WWE green-light that feud here, especially since it allowed JBL to win. So, yes, the JBL reign would continue! Yay! Erm, no. Anyway, we weren’t done, as backstage Heidenreich drove a car into the side of the hearse to give Taker another reason to stay off TV for a stretch. JBL would finally lose the WWE Title to John Cena at WrestleMania 21. The Undertaker-Heidenreich feud, meanwhile, would last until early 2005, and we almost got a WrestleMania match out of it. Thankfully, Vince and co. saw sense. So, instead The Streak was used to set up Taker’s WM match that year. And I think it’s safe to say that decision would prove to be a wise one.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!

With a fair few enjoyable matches amidst a lively crowd, WWE No Mercy 2004 acts as a good showcase of the SmackDown brand that year. Unfortunately, Armageddon – the next SD-only PPV – was only marginally better than previous stinkbombs Judgment Day and The Great American Bash. But for one night, the SmackDown roster was actually able to give us a more than adequate PPV presentation. And no, I am not giving the credit for that to JBL.

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